Tumblr engineer describes Apple's iOS 13 as "adware"


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The iPhone is Apple's core revenue driver and a lot of effort goes into making it a compelling choice for people who want an iOS device to govern their increasingly mobile lives. Case in point, the company is expected to deliver a new affordable iPhone SE (a.k.a. iPhone 9) to help bring iOS to the masses.

Apple recognizes new growth opportunity is in services that make its mobile devices more useful and more entertaining. The company made over $12 billion from their "services" business in the last quarter, which is a sizeable, 14 percent chunk of total revenue for that timeframe.

However, ask Tumblr engineer Steve Streza, and Apple isn't just waiting for its loyal customer base to subscribe to Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+, or Apple Arcade. He makes a good point that Apple actively bombards you with ads for all these services whenever it sees that you aren't using them -- that is, if you're not one of the 480 million people that do.

Streza notes the ads are present throughout iOS 13, and can't be blocked using the integrated content blocker extension system. Default apps like the App Store and Apple Music show ads for the company's subscription services, and sometimes you'll be greeted to these in the Notification Center.

We asked around fellow TechSpot staff members that use iOS devices and they mentioned prompts about paying for extra iCloud backup storage as one of the biggest annoyances in the operating system.

If all this sounds familiar, you're not alone. Pretty much any Windows 10 user has experienced Microsoft's new advertising strategy in the "free" upgrade offered to Windows 7 users, as well as people who paid full retail price for the new OS. The Redmond giant disguises them as "tips" and "suggestions," which makes them tolerable for a portion of users.

Apple's ads, however, are plastered on the home screen and tabs in apps like Apple Music, TV+, News+, Wallet, and App Store. An argument can be made that iOS 13 is gradually turning into adware, which is contrary to Apple's marketing promises that it focuses on creating the best possible user experience.

Interestingly, if you're in a region where a particular service like TV+ isn't available, you won't see an ad in the TV app. And, more importantly, it looks like Apple is pushing these harder whenever it announces new content or features, while keeping a strong stance of not selling your data to third parties.

This isn't the first time Apple has come under fire for questionable practices. Last year, the company had to adjust its App Store search algorithm after a report found Apple's apps ranked first for hundreds of keywords. At the time, the company insisted that a fair way to describe that isn't "correction," but rather as an "improvement," so it wouldn't be a surprise if ads for Apple services inside iOS 13 were to be "improved" in the near future.

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Some corrections: "ads" can be turned off for Apple Music. It's the first setting listed for Apple Music. Apple TV and News can be uninstalled. Apple TV is a subscription service in the first place, so of course it would have ads to use it if you have the app installed. Apple Wallet cannot be uninstalled and I don't know the details about any ads because I do use it (rarely). And the app store doesn't have an option to disable ads but they're clearly labeled with the entire background being a different color. It is also a "store" and practically every store has ads displayed, so I find it reasonable.

The only complaint I have is to use iCloud Drive (which I don't at all), but as far as I know I only get these notifications when I'm running very low on space. The real solution is for me to get a phone with more than 32GB of storage, and I'm fine with that trade-off. And I think iTunes has ads for other services as well (not mentioned in the article), but iTunes is a media store and so its purpose is already to sell you things. Plus you can uninstall that as well.
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kira setsu

Posts: 285   +219
I dont quite get the complaint.

Its apple's device, pushing apple services, makes sense to me. its like going to a restaurant and getting mad cause the waiter recommended the house special.

apple's whole thing is its ecosystem and they tout it as much as they can which apparently got them this far, they're not gonna stop.
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Lew Zealand

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I have iOS 13 and didn't know it was plastered with ads...maybe mine is broken.
You probably don't use the Apps mentioned in the story. I haven't experienced this advertising either but I use none of those Apps regularly. The only one I use at all is the App Store, and that's less than once a month.
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"Apple janitor describes Tumblr as a has-been porn website".

Not sure why a Tumblr's employee opinion deserves a ludicrous article.....slow day at TS??
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I must admit, I don't use most of the apps mentioned, in fact, I've probably uninstalled them. I've never seen any ads in my notifications.

The only one I use is the App store, which quite frankly, is normal to see some advertising in. Which store have you ever walked into that doesn't shove ads in your face?


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@TechSpot Consider adding up/down-voting system for your articles. It might point you in direction of better writing, and thus more readers.


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"Apple janitor describes Tumblr as a has-been porn website".

Not sure why a Tumblr's employee opinion deserves a ludicrous article.....slow day at TS??
A link in the article would have been nice. Turns out it's his private blog and is not affiliated to Tumblr. So ... ya.